Professor Ray Siemens
Global Innovation Chair - Digital Humanities
Office PVC - Human and Social Futures
Looking to the past to understand the future
Professor Ray Siemens is an international leader in digital humanities, a field that combines computing technologies with traditional humanities topics.
“Professor Ray Siemens is the Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities at the University of Newcastle. He is an acknowledged leader in the digital humanities, a field of study concerned with bringing computing technologies and methods to traditional pursuits and activities of the humanities and its core disciplines. We welcome his leadership in the development of research and evidence-based translational practice and policy in the growing field and area of research strength that is digital humanities.” Professor Catharine Coleborne, Head of the School of Humanities and Social Science.
Siemens directs the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) at his home University, the University of Victoria in Canada, and works in collaboration with its strong research and administrative team. The ETCL engages in cross-disciplinary studyof the past, present, and future of textual communication and is a hub for digital humanities activities across the University of Victoria (UVic) campus, from coast to coast, and around the world. With a mandate including research, teaching, and service activities, the ETCL is an intellectual centre for the activities of some twenty local faculty, staff, and students as well as visiting scholars (over 60 since inception), who work closely with research centres, libraries, academic departments, and projects locally, regionally, and internationally.
“We’re understanding the future of professional reading and engagement through its past. Earlier in this work, we focused on devices like iPads and Playbooks – really, any device you can read on electronically and work to understand them and what might be coming next through the lens of what we already know about the past and how people have communicated through reading and writing,” Professor Siemens said. “Currently, we’re working with open social scholarship, exploring and understanding how we engage with each other in knowledge environments, as academic specialists as well as engaged members of society at large. In this work, the past is valuable preface to the present and future; here, we are building bridges between the past and the future. To understand our present and our future, best, we have to have the foundation of the past clearly understood.”
Siemens has led a variety of large-scale complex digital humanities research projects. One of those is the $2.5 million Implementing New Knowledge Environments project. INKE began as a seven-year program of research funded by a Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) grant (2009-2016), which focused on researching, exploring, and prototyping contemporary reading tools and online environments. Distributed nationally and internationally, INKE’s program of research also provided training and development opportunities for staff, faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and undergraduate and graduate students across various institutions. The large project involved more than 35 researchers, 21 partners, 19 postdoctoral fellows and 50 graduate research assistants. Growing from these roots, the earlier research and development program evolved into the INKE Partnership: a collaborative, interdisciplinary network that brings together respected scholars, partners, and stakeholders in research and dissemination processes. The INKE Partnership’s primary objective is to foster open social scholarship in Canada.
“Together, the project team has worked to adopt varied approaches and methods including proof-of-concept prototyping, critical design, tool building, and electronic publishing to engage in world-leading research, and to build community among groups impacted by that work,” he said.
Siemens is also a Director of Iter, a not-for-profit online bibliography for Renaissance studies. “Iter is a partnership dedicated to the advancement of learning in the study and teaching of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700) through the development and distribution of online resources,” Professor Siemens said.
The literature of the Renaissance
In the field of literary studies his research interests lie in Tudor poetry and Renaissance literature. Professor Siemens’ earlier contributions include much-cited articles on the critical engagement of early poet John Milton (Cambridge Companion) and award-winning Canadian authors (Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada) encouraging new inquiry in these areas. His original contribution to our understanding of Renaissance literary history, his scholarly edition of The Lyrics of Henry VIII Manuscript(published by the Renaissance English Society), makes available for the first time lyrics of a young Henry VIII in a form suitable for scholars and students and yields important insight into early Tudor poetic and political culture.
Siemens is also the founding editor of the electronic scholarly journal Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century English Literature, the first publication in Renaissance studies internationally to take advantage of the potential offer to academic publishing by the electronic medium.
He has authored numerous articles on the intersection of literary studies and computational methods and is the co-editor of several book collections on humanities computing topics, among them Blackwell's Companion to Digital Humanities (with Susan Schreibman and John Unsworth), the Blackwell Companion to Digital Literary Studies (with Susan Schreibman), and MLA's Literary Studies in the Digital Age (with Ken Price).
Siemens suggests that “the basis of the electronic scholarly edition and e-books more generally can be seen to be algorithmic in nature, drawing on the notion that computational methods allow us to organise and navigate materials related to our discipline in new and more effective ways.”
From computer games to humanities computing
Professor Siemens interests in computing started in high school when he undertook a course that involved video game programming.
“When I got to university there were courses to take that nicely flowed from gaming in high school into a more university-oriented curriculum,” he said.
Very early on in his university education Professor Siemens realised he could use many means beyond close reading to help understand the literature that he was engaged in.
“I did graduate work at a number of places, all of which had nascent programmes in digital humanities, then called humanities computing, or computational literary studies.”
Siemens entered the field at a time when significant computational moments were occurring. While termed at IBM in Toronto in the mid-eighties he was tasked with revising the manual for the fledgling internet.
“They gave me this big pile of books and said, ‘OK, it's your job to revise these. It's called Telecommunication Protocol / Internet Protocol’. And I said, ‘What's that?’ They said ‘Well, we call it the Internet for short.’ That was my job: to revise the manual for the thing that would blow wide open by 1989,” Professor Siemens recalled.
Defining digital humanities
Professor Siemens’ work has seen disciplinary, theoretical, pedagogical, and practical interventions involving adaptation and repurposing of digital tools, and further original research and interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation, in the areas of data harvesting, textual content analysis, document encoding application and conversion, and dissemination / communication / social-engagement models and mechanisms.
“Humanities is this vibrant set of disciplines and sub-disciplines that look at the nature of the human experience over time via the representation of that experience in its material manifestations,” he said. “In digital humanities we consider computation or the digital, itself, as a grouping of methods, approaches, technologies, and tools that are themselves dynamically and continually changing.”
“There’s this assumption that the humanities are staid and fixed, but of course, nothing could be further from the truth. By adding digital to the humanities we can make new discoveries about how people read, wrote and communicated in the past. We can then apply these discoveries to our future in a meaningful way.”
“For me that eureka-moment is understanding that digital humanities is in fact, more a process than any fixed thing. Not all fields are like that, I think that makes digital humanities really exciting.”
Professor Siemens says the core values he believes in regarding digital humanities are: community, method, and (inter)disciplinary self-determination.
“With the digital humanities we can remediate old worlds and existing material artefacts as well as create new ones with the technologies we use. I believe in embracing and enlarging scope, privileging diversity within that embrace, and focusing on both professional and public outreach and engagement.”
Professor Ray Siemens is an international leader in digital humanities, a field that combines computing technologies with traditional humanities topics.“Professor Ray Siemens is the Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities at the University of Newcastle. He is an acknowledged leader…
Ray Siemens is Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities at the University of Newcastle. As well as digital humanities, his research interests include early Tudor poetry and Renaissance literature, book history, scholarly editing, pedagogy, and scholarly communication.
At his home University, the University of Victoria in Canada, Siemens directs the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Project, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. He has served as Chair of the international Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations, Vice-President / Director (Research Dissemination) of the Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences, President (English) of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities, Chair of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Committee on Scholarly Editions and of its Committee on Information Technology; he currently serves on SSHRC Council.
His work in digital humanities has seen disciplinary, theoretical, pedagogical, and practical interventions involving adaptation and repurposing of digital tools, and further original research and interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation, in the areas of data harvesting, textual content analysis, document encoding application and conversion, and dissemination / communication / social-engagement models and mechanisms.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia - Canada
- Book History
- Digital Humanities
- Renaissance Literature
Fields of Research
|460101||Applications in arts and humanities||33|
|470504||British and Irish literature||34|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Global Innovation Chair - Digital Humanities||University of Newcastle
Office PVC - Human and Social Futures
|Global Innovation Chair - Digital Humanities||University of Newcastle
Office PVC - Human and Social Futures
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (6 outputs)
|2020||Crompton C, Lane RJ, Siemens R, Doing More Digital Humanities Open Approaches to Creation, Growth, and Development, 333 (2020)|
|2020||Towards an Integrated Digital Environment for Early Modern Studies: A Report of the Renaissance Knowledge Network Group (2017), Iter, Toronto (2020)|
Schreibman S, Siemens RR, Unsworth J, A New Companion to Digital Humanities (2015)
This highly-anticipated volume has been extensively revised to reflect changes in technology, digital humanities methods and practices, and institutional culture surrounding the v... [more]
This highly-anticipated volume has been extensively revised to reflect changes in technology, digital humanities methods and practices, and institutional culture surrounding the valuation and publication of digital scholarship. A fully revised edition of a celebrated reference work, offering the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of research currently available in this rapidly evolving discipline. Includes new articles addressing topical and provocative issues and ideas such as retro computing, desktop fabrication, gender dynamics, and globalization. Brings together a global team of authors who are pioneers of innovative research in the digital humanities. Accessibly structured into five sections exploring infrastructures, creation, analysis, dissemination, and the future of digital humanities. Surveys the past, present, and future of the field, offering essential research for anyone interested in better understanding the theory, methods, and application of the digital humanities
|Show 3 more books|
Chapter (4 outputs)
|2021||Siemens R, 'Part Deux: Exploring the Signs of Abandonment of Online Digital Humanities Projects', Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities Volume 2, Iter Press, Unknown (2021)|
|2020||Siemens R, 'Digital Critical Enterprise in the Process of Cultural Creation', Digital Humanities for Literary Studies Methods, Tools, and Practices, Texas A & M University Press, Texas (2020)|
|2019||Siemens R, 'Introduction', Doing More Digital Humanities Open Approaches to Creation, Growth, and Development, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon (2019)|
|Show 1 more chapter|
Journal article (15 outputs)
Flanders J, Siemens R, 'Considering the scholarly edition in the digital age: an engagement by the modern language association s committee on scholarly editions', International Journal of Digital Humanities, 1 323-324 (2021)
El Khatib R, Arbuckle A, Winter C, Siemens R, 'Open social scholarship in action', Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 36 i15-i22 (2021)
|2021||Siemens R, El Khatib R, Arbuckle A, Siemens L, Winter C, 'An "Open Lab?" The Electronic Textual Cultures Lab in the Evolving Digital Humanities Landscape', Digital Humanities Quarterly, 14 (2021)|
|Show 12 more journal articles|
Conference (3 outputs)
Siemens R, Meloni J, 'Implementing New Knowledge Environments: Building upon research foundations to understand books and reading in the digital age', International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Proceedings (2010)
In this paper, we present an overview of the first year work and plans for the second year work of the INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) research group, a large inter... [more]
In this paper, we present an overview of the first year work and plans for the second year work of the INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) research group, a large international, interdisciplinary research team studying reading and texts, both digital and printed, as part of a seven-year project. The INKE team is comprised of researchers and stakeholders at the forefronts of fields relating to textual studies, user experience, interface design, and information management. We aim to contribute to the development of new digital information and knowledge environments that build on past textual practices. We discuss our research questions, methods, aims and research objectives, the rationale behind our work and its expected significance - specifically as it pertains to our first year goals of laying a research foundation for this endeavour - and the concrete steps to be undertaken in our second year of the project. © 2010 ACM.
Patterson S, Stokes-Bennett D, Siemens R, Nahachewsky J, 'Enacting change: A study of the implementation of e-readers and an online library in two Canadian high school classrooms', LIBER Quarterly (2010)
In this paper the authors discuss their interdisciplinary pilot project entitled 'Teaching for the 21st Century: A Pilot Project on E-Reading with SD62' that engaged in ... [more]
In this paper the authors discuss their interdisciplinary pilot project entitled 'Teaching for the 21st Century: A Pilot Project on E-Reading with SD62' that engaged in the development and implementation of a customized and purposespecific online library for two selected high school classrooms at a time when such systems did not exist for this purpose. This project combined (1) information literacy issues, (2) pedagogy and e-pedagogy, and (3) computational modeling activities founded on a productive confluence of these perspectives all situated at the intersection of pertinent theories and practices pertaining to each. The result of the research project was a functional online library environment that worked in the classrooms to support born-digital students' engagement with e-readers and findings of the way in which these both worked in the context of multiliteracies classrooms.
Warwick C, Siemens R, Ruecker S, 'Codex redux: Books and new knowledge environments', International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Proceedings (2008)
1.In this paper, we present the work of the INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) research group, a large international, interdisciplinary research team studying reading ... [more]
1.In this paper, we present the work of the INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) research group, a large international, interdisciplinary research team studying reading and texts, both digital and printed. The INKE team is comprised of researchers and stakeholders at the forefronts of fields relating to textual studies, user experience, interface design, and information management. We aim to contribute to the development of new digital information and knowledge environments that build on past textual practices. We discuss our research questions, methods, aims and research objectives, the rationale behind our work and its expected significance. Copyright 2008 ACM.
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20201 grants / $20,000
Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
|Funding body||Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle|
Dr J McIntyre (Director); Dr K Ariotti; Dr G Arrighi; Dr H Askland; Dr J Coffey; A/Prof N Cushing; E/Prof H Craig; Prof R Siemens et al
|Type Of Funding||Internal|
August 7, 2020
May 14, 2020
September 13, 2019